Many Kilkenny eyes were focused on Tullamore on Saturday, but Dublin had their Leinster senior hurling championship tie with Laois secured after 10 minutes, writes Nickey Brennan.
Anthony Daly was, no doubt, hoping for a decent challenge from Laois, but this was one-way-traffic from the throw-in.
I have rarely seen a Laois team play so poorly. The lack of determination and commitment from the players was difficult to fathom. With the exception of their goalie, no starting Laois player came remotely close to breaking even with his direct opponent.
It is hard to assess Dublin after this one-sided affair. Remarkably, this win was Dublin’s first success in 2012. It was also the first competitive outing for a number of players who were returning from injury.
The returning trio all played well, with the work rate of Conal Keaney being particularly prominent. Tactically Dublin played Liam Rushe in the open spaces of the full-forward line and this caused big problems for the Laois rearguard.
Rushe is a big, mobile player and he is difficult to stop when in possession. His two first half goals were brilliantly executed. Somehow it is hard to see the Kilkenny defence being so exposed and so accommodating of the Dublin attacker in Portlaois on June 23.
Against limited opposition Dublin’s work-rate was never going to be tested, but one had to admire the energy of the players all over the field. Most times when a Laois player gained possession he was surrounded by a plethora of blue jerseys and possession was coughed up rather easily.
I still think Dublin have defensive frailties as was evidenced by the concession of a very soft goal to Laois in the first half. Such sloppy defending could prove very costly on another day.
From the moment the Leinster draws were made late last year, Anthony Daly has had Saturday, June 23 etched in his and his players’ minds.
He now has an experienced and mature group of players under his command and he firmly believes his side are finally ready for Kilkenny. It is a case of now or never for the Clareman and the Dubs!